The French company said the programme is aimed at driving and advancing technological breakthroughs in the ingredients industry by sourcing and supporting innovative ideas from various sources. It has its eye on start-ups in particular, and partnerships will include providing advice and mentorships as well as opening its analytical and application laboratories to the chosen candidates who lack such resources.
The scheme will focus on three areas of research: original raw materials, such as botanicals or ingredients obtained through innovative farming processes; earth-friendly technologies, such as green extraction; and plant-based ingredients with clinically proven health benefits.
Naturex CEO, Olivier Rigaud, said: “By crowdsourcing innovation, Naturex can improve customer value, drive advancements across industries and, last but not least, foster local economic development. We are very proud to be shaping the future of the ingredients industry.”
Bright ideas on the horizon
The programme is part of Naturex’s Bright2020 strategic plan which aims to generate 10% of sales though new product developments by 2020.
Marc Roller, chief science officer for Naturex, told FoodNavigator: “For us, this new open innovation program can be described as an “accelerator” program. Ingenium is not a classic venture fund, but focuses more on the concept of mentorship. Financial support will be part of the program but our main goal is to help promising businesses develop by providing coaching and advice on various levels.”
The mentorship could provide advice on regulation, legal advice, logistics and marketing. “We aim to establish fruitful partnerships that can benefit to all stakeholders,” Roller added.
Regarding ownerships and intellectual property of any products and technical advances that come out of the partnership, Roller said this would be determined on a case by case assessment, with decisions being made in accordance with all partners.
But licencing is an important part of Naturex’s partnerships, the company said, which has recently signed a licencing agreement with global cocoa giant Barry Callebaut for marketing cocoa extracts. “This agreement with a worldwide player allows Naturex to bring the benefits of cocoa flavanols to the dietary supplement market,” the company added.
An application form will soon go live on the company’s website meaning interested candidates can apply by contacting Naturex directly. But the company will also be recruiting interesting and innovative partners through professional structures that specialise in screening start-ups. This will ensure a wide reach, said Roller.